There is no definite answer here. It all comes down to what you prefer. Getting fit has to be enjoyable to you, otherwise you won’t stick it out. Joining the latest fitness craze can make things interesting, and you could end up finding out that you actually love doing something you thought you never would. Our bodies also get better by us constantly challenging them, so if you just keep doing the same old thing the same way, your body is probably going to stay the same. So while there are reasons not to hop onto each new fitness bandwagon that rolls past, there are also definitely reasons to give it a go. Let’s look at a few, and if you think it sounds good, why not give it a go?
Sit-ups, pull-ups, crunches, squats, etc. Weight training, but with your body. I have always been a fan of bodyweight training. I love being able to exercise anywhere, not having to lug around equipment, and not requiring a lot of space. Best of all I can do it at home. Bodyweight training is great to do on holiday, and for fitting in a few minutes of exercise every day. You can make your own little routines, say, 30 crunches, 20 push ups, 20 squats, and 1 minute plank before shower time. I also like giving myself a time limit, 1 minute usually, and then doing as many reps of an exercise as I can before resting for 15-30 seconds and going for the next round. The first time I did that, I attempted to do two 4 minute circuits, I only managed one round, it may have been only 4 minutes, but that workout was awesome! This brings us nicely onto:
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training):
This is what I described in the last bit of the section on bodyweight training. Go hard for a minute, and rest for 15-30 seconds. Or take a circuit of a few exercises, either a certain number of reps, e.g. 20 reps each, or do a circuit of exercises for a certain amount of time, 30 seconds to 1 minute each, one after the other, and rest for 2 minutes when done. Repeat. 4-6 different exercises per circuit is fine. You can even jog for 2 minutes, and then sprint for 30 seconds, then drop back down to a jog, repeat for 20 minutes. Interval training generally lasts around 20 minutes, sometimes even shorter. When I first tried, I was done in 4 minutes, there wasn’t even round two. It’s incredibly taxing. Pace yourself and listen to your body. I have also pushed myself so hard that my heart felt like it wanted to beat right out of my chest, and I felt dizzy. Not good. Never exercise to that point. For some good workouts already made for you, check out Tabata and Insanity.
Seeing a personal trainer:
If you are new to fitness, seeing a personal trainer can really help you out with ways to exercise. They are also really motivating, and who doesn’t need a little motivation to keep going? If you are already big into fitness, and have been going for a while, getting a personal trainer can help you up your game. They are there to prescribe exercise routines that are tailored to your goals, and help you get there in a safe manner. They motivate you, are there to answer your questions, and will keep helping you to challenge yourself. Of course, having a personal trainer doesn’t mean you will automatically become the next Usain bolt or the next cover model on one of the latest fitness magazines, you still need to put in the work. But knowing what to do, receiving some guidance when needed, and having someone supportive in your corner always helps.
Exercises that help you gain strength, coordination, improve your balance, endurance… in short, everything that makes you move better every day. These are also tough workouts, but enjoyable, and they add variety. Equipment is often used, including exercise balls, kettlebells, dumbbells, ropes, resistance bands, and bosu balls to name a few. There will also be exercises where no equipment is used. So a very versatile workout. I have tried this myself, once again, when I was not as fit. I don’t really have a competitive attitude, just an “I need to keep up” attitude. I was sore for about 3 days afterwards. You don’t have to keep up with everyone, often strength type workouts allow you the freedom of sticking to your own pace. Take advantage of that. You can still challenge yourself without killing yourself.
Workouts that are like ballet. This workout uses a barre for balance, and incorporates moves from ballet, pilates and yoga, and may even include some weights. The idea is that you hold your body still in a position that contracts different muscles for a set amount of time (called isometric contractions), and in some cases, perform multiple reps of small movements. This one seems to be fairly new, whereas some of the other trends have been around for years. I would definitely give this a go. This would be a lovely strength workout, and we all know that ballet dancers have amazing bodies, strong and supple. I wouldn’t say no to a chance at a body like that!
Fitness gadgets have been all the rage and I can say that I am an addict. Depending on what you get they can be quite pricey, so check out all your options. You can get cheap pedometers that you can attach to your belt, or expensive heart rate monitors, and in between fitness trackers that track everything from your steps to your sleep. I got a fitbit for Christmas and I was overjoyed. The novelty did wear off after a few months, but I still wear it everyday and I HATE it when the battery has gone flat and it didn’t count my steps. I still get a feeling of bliss, albeit it not all out ecstatic happiness, when I have reached my target steps, and you can often catch me pacing in the house and other such random things just to get steps. Some of the biggest brands are Fitbit, Jawbone, Fitbug, Withings, Suunto, Garmin and Polar. If you don’t want an actual gadget, you can also get apps on your phone that count your steps. They can be very motivational, it’s always nice to see the work you put in.
It seems that strong is definitely the new sexy. It’s a nice change from the spotlight always being on losing weight. There are a bunch more fitness trends going around. You can read about some more of them in the sources I listed below. If you are struggling with time to exercise, give this post a read: No time to exercise?. Enjoying your journey to fitness and maintaining your fitness levels should be fun, so find a workout that suits you, that you enjoy, and that you will keep wanting to come back to. For me that is taebo, it’s old, but it seems martial arts workouts are making a comeback too, I love it! Good old bodyweight exercises are also a staple for me. What is yours? Let me know what your favourite workouts are 🙂